South Korean Navy has sought to build a 30,000-ton light aircraft carrier and place vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft on it, probably the U.S. made F-35B Jets.
In his New Year message, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Boo Suk-jong said, "We should expedite moves to secure diverse future military assets, including a light aircraft carrier, in a timely manner to be fully prepared for future security challenges and to advance our maritime power."
Military authorities finalized a plan last week to push for the project in earnest starting this year.
The cost of building the ship is approximately $1.74 billion (2 trillion won). Seoul plans to wrap up the development of the core technologies by 2024. The envisioned carier will be put into operation around 2033.
"A light aircraft carrier will play a role as a moving military base that can launch strikes from anywhere against enemies in case of emergency," Jeong Seung-kyun, a two-star Navy officer, was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency. "It will be one of the key national strategic assets that helps our national interests and security."
Seoul has so far not requested to buy F-35B jets specifically. It has however begun procedures to acquire approximately 20 VTOL jets for light carrier operations.
South Korea is also working to locally build 6,000-ton class Aegis-equipped destroyers and secure a 3,000-ton submarine, which could be a nuclear-powered one, according to the officials.